2014 – Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona, AZ
A candle shining in the darkness
Ruth 1: It was back in the days when judges led Israel.
The stories in Judges get darker and darker, with the final one, the one about the Levite’s concubine, being the worst of all. It’s not only a story of civil war but one which also highlights just how terribly women in general are treated in this distant day. Then I turn the page and find myself reading a beautiful, gentle love story. Even in the midst of diminishing worship of God and the resulting lowering of morality in general, I find that God is still working in the lives of those who will walk with him. I see that some people aren’t absorbed by the common culture. Instead, some are noble and kind and generous even when, because of that, they are totally out of step with their society. This is a wonderful reminder to me as I reflect on my own culture — a culture that seems committed to remove God from all public life; a culture that “calls the darkness ‘light’ and calls the light ‘darkness.’ There’s still the possibility of purity and Christian gentleness, even in my culture. Not only is it possible, but a small, unnoticed act might just impact the world in ways I can never imagine.
Take Away: Even in the midst of a corrupt culture we can live clean, beautiful lives in Christ.
A pretty girl is like a melody
Esther 2: The girl had a good figure and a beautiful face.
Having met king Xerxes and Mordecai, we now meet the star of the story, Esther. Right off we’re told of her natural beauty, something absolutely necessary for her to play a role in these events. Throughout the Bible we see that good looks aren’t necessary for true beauty. Even when we aren’t told that specifically, the failure of Scripture to describe just how people look except for those times when looks are a part of the story convinces us that appearance isn’t a big deal to God. However, it’s an advantage from a human point of view. (By the way, I speak an observer here and not from personal experience!) In Esther’s case, her looks are a necessary asset, and her appearance is used by God to bring deliverance to his people. Different people have different gifts: looks, intelligence, talents, or resources. If we consecrate those things to the Lord, he’ll use them to advance his Kingdom. God doesn’t desire that a good looking person exploit that attribute for their own benefit any more than he wants a wealthy person to use their wealth only to please himself. In Esther, we see a beautiful woman using her beauty, not for selfish purposes, but for the Lord’s.
Take Away: If we’ll surrender our gifts and attributes to the Lord he’ll use them for both our benefit and the good of his Kingdom.